Mark Heath, Course Manager at The Vale Golf & Country Club in Pershore, Worcestershire, has been maintaining the club’s two stunning golf courses for the last 22 years. Since embarking on an intensive ICL programme three years ago, Mark believes that the courses have never been in such good condition.
Set in 300 acres of idyllic countryside with superb views over the Malvern and Bredon Hills, The Vale Golf & Country Club boasts outstanding golfing facilities including an 18 hole (par 74) International golf course, a 9 hole (par 35) course, a newly re-furbished 14 bay floodlit driving range, a putting green, a practice bunker and a chipping area. As well as being an ideal wedding venue, The Vale also offers luxury log cabins, which are ideal for golf breaks and getaways.
Mark and his team, consisting of five full-time greenkeepers and one part-time, work tirelessly across both the 18 hole ‘International’ course and the 9 hole ‘Lenches’ course. Over recent years, the courses have seen many improvements and have been refined in an attempt to achieve Mark’s goal of The Vale becoming the premier golf club in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
With over 40,000 rounds of golf played at The Vale, the popularity of the golf club is evidence that he is very much nearing his goal. According to Mark, ICL has been integral to The Vale’s progression, which all stemmed from a meeting with ICL Technical Area Sales Manager Emma Kilby.
“We wanted to develop a course that was consistent; consistent in the way that it grew, in the way that it was being managed and controlled and also the playability. We wanted it to stop having these peaks and troughs which I just wasn’t happy with. I said to Emma that I wasn’t looking for just someone who would come in and sell me a product. I wanted her to get to know and understand my golf course. You just can’t turn your back on these greens otherwise they will bite you. It needs constant attention and I needed the best products and back-up,” said Mark.
Together, Emma and Mark devised a tailor-made nutritional programme consisting of a range of high impact fertilizers including; Greenmaster granules and Greenmaster liquids, Sierraform Spring Start, Vitalnova Blade, ProTurf and SeaMax; the plant growth regulator Primo Maxx; wetting agents – H2Pro Conserve and H2Pro Maximise and the Syngenta range of fungicides.
“We’ve stepped up into a different league of golf course since we’ve been on the ICL programme. I’ve found that the products provide us with sustainability across both courses and there are no peaks or troughs anymore. We’ve had events here that we never would have had in the past and that’s because of the quality of the golf course and the quality of the greens. We get a lot of satisfaction from it and we are very proud of it.
“For me, the biggest revelation and something that the members have certainly noticed is that we introduced ProTurf. The presentation it has given us is absolutely amazing. It provides excellent recovery and produces that fantastic sward density that we need for the winter - I’ve never seen a product like it.”
Mark also revealed how Emma has played a key role in The Vale’s improvements and believes that she goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.
“Emma is very hands-on here and she puts her heart and soul into it. It’s great to have someone like that go out on the course and all of the members know her really well now. She gives us reassurance, superb technical advice and if we have a crisis then she’s in straight away - it’s the equivalent of having our very own agronomist.
“When you work on your own course 24/7 you can become blinkered at what you see, so the advice that you get can be important. The wrong advice can damage you so quickly and that’s why I place my trust in Emma. If she kept agreeing with me then the alarm bells would ring, but she doesn’t do that – she will disagree with me from time to time and offer a different perspective and that’s what I want.”